Ski areas’ environmental scores get a lift; Aspen earns an ‘A’ |

Ski areas’ environmental scores get a lift; Aspen earns an ‘A’

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A group that grades the environmental friendliness of ski areas in the West says 53 of the 83 resorts it reviewed this year boosted their scores, but seven received failing grades.

The resorts with the highest and lowest scores were both in Colorado. Aspen Mountain got an ‘A’ with a top score of 85.7, while Copper Mountain ranked lowest at 31.9 for an ‘F,’ the Ski Areas Citizens’ Coalition said.

Copper Mountain’s score was almost entirely due to an expansion of terrain and real estate development, coalition research director Hunter Sykes said. Aspen was credited for trying to minimize impacts of development, Sykes said.

“The scorecard is weighted heavily against ski area and village development and doesn’t credit resorts’ sustainability initiatives or community involvement,” Copper Mountain spokeswoman Lauren Pelletreau said.

She said Copper’s “green” efforts include buying renewable energy credits, matching employee donations to an environmental fund, and installing a 4.2-kilowatt solar system on a transportation building. A new carpooling initiative on certain Saturdays this season offers visitors who arrive in vehicles with at least four people a chance to win season ski passes for 2009-2010.

The coalition said Sundance in Utah, Squaw Valley in California, Mount Bachelor in Oregon and Bogus Basin in Idaho were among a record 18 resorts who got As this year, up from 12 last year.

Sykes insisted that new development doesn’t automatically mean a low grade, although the financially crunched Tamarack Resort in Idaho received an ‘F’ in its first year on the scorecard this year, largely because of its newness. Arizona Snowbowl ” with plans to add snowmaking, lifts and trails ” received an ‘F.’

He said points awarded for using renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies, for example, can offset deductions for development. “We do give due credit to what resorts are doing,” Sykes said.

Sykes, who teaches skiing in Durango, Colo., said resorts should be held accountable for development that could level trees, harm wildlife habitat or disturb water quality.

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